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XFL 2001

Million Dollar Game Conference Call

Comments made by the starting Quarterbacks and the Head Coaches during a media conference call on Wednesday, prior to the Million Dollar game.

Los Angeles Xtreme

Quarterback Tommy Maddox

On receiving the Player of the Year Award…

“It’s a big honor and anytime something like that happens, it’s overwhelming. I think it’s a team award more than a personal award. You have to look at the supporting cast. I have been very lucky to be surrounded by a lot of talent at the receiver and running back position as well as the offensive line. You prepare yourself to play well, but it’s been a great year to be apart of and you hope to have a chance to play for a championship when you start out and there are only two teams have that shot and we are one of them. I love playing and winning the game and to be able to play for a championship, I don’t care in what league, I am very excited about that. There are a lot of people watching the game. I get a lot of feedback from people that have watched and enjoyed the game and I think the ratings are overrated.”

On the NFL…

“I am thinking about San Francisco. I didn’t play in this league to get back in the NFL. I played because I wanted to play the game of football. This was an opportunity for me to do that. My concern is to win the first championship and after that I will sit down and figure out where to go from here.”

On Mike Pawlawski and Saladin McCullough…

“It is great to play against Mike. He is going to bring his A game. You are going to have to be sharp during the game because he is going to be sharp. All the games that we have played together have been close except for last week. We jumped on them early and it got out of hand. Other than that, all of our games have been close. I know he is questionable, but I know if Mike can play, he will. I feel fortunate to have been able to beat him last time.”

“Saladin McCullough is the X factor. He brought something to the table where teams have to focus on him during the week. He can run the ball well, last week he rushed for 164 yards and he can also catch the ball well. The offensive line has worked very and they are opening wholes and giving him a chance to get into the secondary and he is tough in the open field.”

On the receivers…

“From top to bottom, we may not have an NFL superstar, but from top to bottom they are the best receiver core I ever played with. The league has a lot of skilled position guys that are very good. Are receiving score is special because they all do different. We have guys that are big and physical and we have guys that can run by you. There are a lot of motivation that goes with why these guys are playing in this league. Some are motivated by the chance to play in the NFL someday and this is their best chance. Sometimes when you get the chance to play in the NFL it is a let down because you work so hard to get there, there are not those let downs on this team. Back when I was in the NFL, we were a little rugged coming out of camp. But guys got use to playing again. I think we got to the level where we wanted to be rather quickly. The level of play the last five weeks have been great. Everyone jumped on us early and never gave us a chance. I wouldn’t say the level of play is bad in this league. There are a lot of players that deserve to go to the next level. When I was in the NFL, I was kind of frustrated because I couldn’t go out and play a full 16 game season. That’s been the most fun about this league. Not only can you learn from your mistakes, you have a chance each week to go out and correct them. I have a chance to play for the championship because we were able to sustain things over the season and when we got knocked down we got back up and went on.”

On Jose Cortez…

“Jose had a great year leading the league in field goals. In the beginning he was struggling a bit with his confidence and to his credit he continued to work hard. He has been great for us down the stretch. In week three when he kicked four field goals and won the game for us helped his confidence. It’s been great to see him go through the year the way he has and he is a great kicker with a strong leg and is very accurate.”

On the XFL Salary…

“Being around the guys has been great because you don’t have to deal with all of that because people know that we have to do this together. We can’t go out there and worry about the individual things because that is when you get beat. People are really focused on winning and what it takes to win so it’s has been great.”

On going back to Texas…

“I going to go home and evaluate everything and go from there.”

Head Coach Al Luginbill

“This group of individuals will do something special, they don’t get these opportunities every day. When you do get them you extend the effort so that when you walk away you gave everything that you have to accomplish what you want on that particular day. You only have three hour to get this done. It’s a one time shot for this year and it’s what everyone in this league is tried to do and get to and we are fortunate enough to be here and now we are trying to win the game.”

On the running game…

“There is no question over the last few weeks he has brought a lot to the table for us. He balances up our offense, He is an excellent running back, he has great field vision and is an outstanding receiver. The three things you look for in a running back. The ability to carry the ball with natural instincts, the ability to catch the ball and the ability to pass protect and he does all three well. People have to make a choice. Are we going to take away the pass first or the run first and let them try to beat you throwing the football. Against Memphis they said ‘we are going to run it if you will,’ and we didn’t do it that day we got behind in the ball game, so it was our intent to be able to run the football against San Francisco and make sure they weren’t able to take the running game away from us.”

On Tommy Maddox…

“I don’t think his NFL experience had anything to do with it other than it matured him to what professional football is all about. We heard what people said about him and we said ‘the heck with that, we are going to clean the slate here and start over with a young man that we feels has a chance to be excellent and if we are right, this organization is going to be successful. Early in the year there were people taking pot-shots at our offense and in the first three to four weeks we were very inconsistent and that falls down on the quarterback and head coaches shoulders. But we hung in there and stuck with what we knew we could do and got better and better. Tommy had a lot of great people around him with a great supporting cast. I told people he is the person that runs our ship. If you don’t have an outstanding player at that spot, you are going to have a difficult time winning.”

On Tommy Maddox going to the NFL…

“I have never seen anything but focus. I think he will be very careful about what he does with is future. He has a future in this league. If this leads to a bigger and better life for Tommy Maddox, because he is able to play and start in the NFL, that is great.”

On the quality of play…

“Let’ make sure we understand the product. The ratings didn’t have anything to do with me. Our focus was winning the football game. I do not pay attention to the media or I wouldn’t have come to work in this league. It is a great opportunity to be successful, but I knew it would not happen overnight. We are further along than any of us expected to be. People on the outside did not have a true fill for what our game was all about and don’t now how difficult it is to put eight teams together from scratch. The Play was spotty for the first five or six weeks, but eventually it became very interesting week in and week out. Not really because the greatest thing we will have is the continuity of people coming back. Our league will be established. I think we will pick up where we left off. I am not a proponent of long training camps. A mini-camp in December, training camp in January and kick it off in February. Our punter is our third quarter, which is part of the 38-man roster. Noel Prefontaine has played quarterback on all levels.”

San Francisco Demons

Quarterback Mike Pawlawski

On the shoulder…

“Shoulder is good I have been taking snaps, so I’ll be ready to go on Saturday. As a thrower at the end of the season, I don’t think your shoulder is ever 100% but actually going through camp it actually feels pretty remarkable. It is as close to (100%) as it can be at this point in the season. Well I got a lot going on right now, My wife and I just had a baby on Monday, so on top of the title game I have a lot of other things on my mind too. I am pretty excited about, I had this experience two years ago in the Arena Football League and it was pretty fantastic, and I went to a couple of Bowl games when I was at University of California (Berkley) and I really enjoyed those. Each game has its own dynamic. I am fortunate to play on a team full of guys that I love to be around, that makes it pretty special. The fact that it is an inaugural bowl game for this league makes it pretty special because the guys no that everything is going to be record establishing and this will go down as the first championship game.”

On the XFL…

“I can say unequivically that there are a lot of people who have missed the boat that want to dislike this league for whatever reason they want. There are a lot of players in this league that can really play the game. For them to bash this league and football would be to put down NCAA Football. There is no way college football is as good as this. The players in this are either a missed opportunity or missed a step or that close to being NFL players. A lot of them have been and a lot of them are hoping to be NFL players again and will have a chance I would imagine based on the inter league chemistry a lot guys will be able to play in the league again. I think people who are bashing our league have there own personal reasons. My understanding when I took media course is there wasn’t suppose to be any personal bias when you read the news, but who am I to comment on the media.”

On Tommy Maddox…

“Tommy had a great year. Tommy and I came out (of college) the same year and were rivals in the Pac 10 we played each other. We shared a trading card together so we have known each other for quite awhile. I am just really happy for him, he has played extremely well this season and I am glad to see him have that kind of success.”

On Rivalry…

“Why not. I have lived in Southern California, so I understand it from both sides, clearly northern California is right. Anytime you a interstate game between Los Angeles and San Francisco, it could not be more perfect. You have the LA Dodgers and Giants, you use to have the LA Rams and San Francisco 49ers, it just fits. Nobody in the Pac-10 like the LA Schools.”

On winning the game…

“We have to score more points than they do. I don’t know about the running game, but I hope we make some changes. The last time we played them, it did not work so hot. We did not execute really well either, we definitely didn’t bring our “A” game for that one. We made a lot of mistake and a lot of mental errors. You can’t win playing against a good team making mental errors. They were in playoff form and at that point, we weren’t. This has been a team that gets up for games all year long. The team has always found a way to win games and they showed it last week when we got up for the Orlando game and won that one. This team finds away to win when it is really focused.”

On Playing at the Coliseum…

“I played down there at Cal when they use to have a track. People are a lot closer to you, which I guess is good if you are the home team. It’s not like playing at Oregon or Washington State where are right on top of you howling profanities. You enjoy playing at the Coliseum because of all the history and what goes on down there. My memories of the Coliseum is going down there and playing USC with the history of Troy blaring in the back ground and you couldn’t hear yourself speak, and them talking about Marcus Allan, O.J. Simpson, Rickey Bell and all these guys, and you think “my God, how can this school have all these players.” But I love playing down there. The last time we played there was actually the first time I ever loss at the Coliseum.”

On Pat Barnes…

“Pat has been great. I said it all year long that Pat deserves to be a starter in this league, there no question about it, he is a hell of a quarterback. Having Pat here, as a coach you have to be extremely happy because you have a guy that should be starting and for whatever reason coming out of camp, I got pegged as a starter. Pat is a great quarterback, he has played extremely well and has come through and is in a tough position as a backup you don’t get the snaps all year long and your not put in the same position as a starter, so it’s harder to be successful. He has done a great job when he has come in, he has won two out of three games when he played. I loved him when he was at Cal, I covered him, I worked at a radio station. I was a huge Pat Barnes fan back then and nothing has changed since.”

Head Coach Jim Skipper

“Our entire team and organization is very excited to be at the game and can’t wait for the game to start.”

On the team…

“I think our guys had our eyes on the final prize throughout the season, we just persevere and hang in there and I think we work as a unit. Our goal was to do whatever it took to get into the playoffs so we could be in the championship hunt. I do not think we have a superstar on the team. We play real good and everybody just pulls their load and we stick together and we have a blue collar mentality and when we get in tough situation, I think that come out. We preach all year long that the game is not over until it’s over and it doesn’t end until it ends. Each game has its own personality. Sometimes you can jump off to a big league or sometimes you can get into a whole. When things happen to you early, you have time to overcome it.”

Depth at QB…

“We were lucky to have two guys. Mike Pawlawski is having a outstanding year for us and he went down with a neck injury and Pat Barnes stepped in and did a terrific job for us. We happen to be in a situation where we have two outstanding players. I think Pat Barnes can play and be a starter in this league. He is a true professional. They are very compatible with one another.”

On the League…

“We look at our roster and we have over 50% of our players that have been on NFL rosters. I though outside of the O lineman we had people at the skilled position that is good as anywhere. I think there is a little bit of a drop off from the NFL, meaning that it is hard to find offensive lineman. There are a rare breed of cats, you might be able to find the size your looking for, but you have to have good footwork and that is a rare combination. Outside of offensive lineman, our skilled people are just a notch below. But as far as pure ability to catch the ball and run, our receivers are as good as anywhere.”

On the extra point and defense…

“What happens is one point is now from one yard, when originally it was from two yards. From the two-yard line the percentage is roughly 45 percent, so from the one-yard line the percentage is going to be higher. It’s a 10-point lead and the cut off nine, it went from seven to nine.”

On the defense…

“Our defense has been playing consistent defense throughout the year. We were ranked number one most of the year, then we had trouble stopping the run, but guys stepped it up real big last week. Now we are playing rock solid defense.”

On the Demons and NFL…

“I think the New York Giants and San Francisco Demons are blue-collar teams. They give it there all every snap. When I made my final decision that was calculated in that the Giants would go to the Super Bowl. It just so happens that Super Bowl Sunday was the exact same day we would break training camp. I have been a career assistant and I know if the opportunities come, they will be few and far in between minority or not. It’s not like you can take a civil service exam and whoever scores the highest gets the job.”

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